Category: Ecosystem

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Book Review: The Infinite Resource by Ramez Naam (2013)

The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet is IEET Fellow Ramez Naam’s case for a market-driven solution that will simultaneously preserve the current economic order and avert all resource shortages and existential threats, allowing the global population to reach 10 billion and live the lifestyle of middle class US citizens.

2

Interview – Kim Stanley Robinson – Utopia, Transhumanism, Social Systems, Climate Change & Strategic Foresight

Renowned Science Fiction author, Kim Stanley Robinson is interviewed by H+ director Adam Ford. Robinson’s novels have won eleven major science fiction awards, and have been nominated on twenty-nine occasions. Robinson won the Hugo Award for Best Novel with Green Mars (1994); and Blue Mars (1997); the Nebula Award for Best Novel with Red Mars (1993) and 2312 (2012); the Nebula Award for Best Novella with The Blind Geometer (1986); the World Fantasy Award with Black Air (1983); a John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel with Pacific Edge (1991); and Locus Awards for The Wild Shore (1985), A Short, Sharp Shock (1991), Green Mars (1994), Blue Mars (1997), The Martians (2000), and The Years of Rice and Salt (2003).

1

Robots in Ecology: Welcome to the machine

Robots have primarily been developed for warfare, yet they also serve peaceful purposes. Their use in Ecology is in its infancy, but they may soon become essential tools in a broad variety of ecological sub-disciplines. Autonomous robots, in particular drones sent to previously inaccessible areas, have revolutionized data acquisition, not only for abiotic parameters, but also for recording the behavior of undisturbed animals and collecting biological material. Robots will also play an essential role in population Ecology, as they will allow for automatic census of individuals through image processing, or via detection of animals marked electronically. These new technologies will enable automated experimentation for increasingly large sample sizes, both in the laboratory and in the field. Finally, interactive robots and cyborgs are becoming major players in modern studies of animal behavior. Such rapid progress nonetheless raises ethical, environmental, and security issues.

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Abundance at the Bottom: Algae Based Nutritional Supplement and Sustainable Bio-Fuel Production

While these technologies have been utilized for decades on a stand-alone basis, we will be the first to integrate them together so that the byproducts of each process become key inputs for the next. The total system is able to provide entire communities with ultra-clean burning ethanol cooking fuel, renewable electricity for area clinics, schools, shops/businesses and homes, high-protein animal feed, organic fertilizer, algae-derived biodiesel, clean drinking water, and managerial, skilled & unskilled employment opportunities.

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Fight Global Warming with Genetically Altered Trees!

Could genetically altered trees and plants help to counteract global warming? Christer Jansson and a research team at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory just published a proposal for genetic engineering phytosequestration as the lead paper of a special section in the October 2010 issue of the journal BioScience.

3

“Frankenfood” and Futuristic Farming

GM crops are commonplace in the developed world. Across the USA, they account for more than 80% of all maize, 86% of cotton, and 92% of the soya bean crop grown (according to the US Department of Agriculture, 2008). In the EU, a handful of species have been approved for sale, although, in practice, almost no permission has been granted yet. 

GM crops are likely to become commonplace in the EU within the next few decades. There is debate about what specifically will trigger GM to pass the political threshold that currently motivates opposition to this biotechnology. I think acceptance will probably happen when food prices rise beyond what the general public will accept. This may be a result of climate change or increased population and demand.